James Macmillan

BORN 1959

The pre-eminent Scottish composer of his generation, James MacMillan CBE read music at Edinburgh University, undertook Doctoral studies at Durham University and worked as a lecturer at Manchester University, before returning to settle in Glasgow. The premiere of Tryst at the 1990 St Magnus Festival led to his appointment as Affiliate Composer of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and he was Artistic Director of the Philharmonia Orchestra’s Music of Today series from 1992–2002.

MacMillan is internationally active as a conductor, working with the BBC Philharmonic (2000–09), and as Principal Guest Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic from 2010. His works have been played by orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics and Cleveland Orchestra and he has been featured composer at Edinburgh Festival (1993), Southbank Centre (1997) and BBC Barbican Composer Weekend (2005).

MacMillan’s music is infused with the spiritual and the political. His Roman Catholic faith has inspired many of his sacred works and traditional Scottish music has also had a profound musical influence. When the Scottish Parliament was reconvened in 1999 after 292 years, a fanfare composed by MacMillan accompanied the Queen into the chamber. He has been a prolific composer of music for the cello whose deep understanding of melody and colour suits the instrument well.

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